To say Sam Pittman has endeared himself to Razorback Nation is an understatement.
From the very beginning of his head coaching tenure, when 1,000 people greeted Pittman in Fayetteville when he arrived on a plane from Athens, Georgia, he has been a fan favorite.
His penchant for earning trust quickly with a no-bulls### attitude has been a tonic for fans still reeling from the toxic overpromising of that slick catchphrase-oholic, Chad Morris.
The fact Pittman has hired a stellar coaching staff, helped convince Rakeem Boyd to stay another season and delivered the goods in recruiting and on the field has only helped his case.
Well, this love fest is about to get more raucous.
By now, most fans know that Pittman cried from joy last December when Arkansas athletics director Hunter Yurachek traveled to his home in Georgia to offer him the job.
What isn’t widely known, though, is that Pittman was so smitten with the prospect of returning to Arkansas, where he’d previously been an assistant, that he didn’t even think to ask about pay.
That’s one of the golden revelations coming from former Sports Illustrated writer Andy Staples’ new Pittman feature in The Athletic:
In all the excitement, Sam didn’t even bother asking a few basic questions. That includes “What does it pay?” Pittman told Yurachek to send all that stuff to his agent and he’d get it all signed. Pittman was the head hog, and that’s all that mattered. “I knew that we could come in here and teach kids how to play the game and love them and care about them and get them relentless and tough and strong,” Pittman said. “I knew all those things. But then I saw the contract [for $3 million annually], and that made me feel a little bit better about being the head coach at Arkansas.”
So far, most Razorback fans would agree Pittman’s been well worth the money.
In leading the program back to competitiveness, he’s been nearly everything that a group of former Razorbacks who vouched for him as a candidate last winter expected him to be.
Staples details how without the work of former Hogs like Travis Swanson and Dan Skipper, who worked the phones to make the case for Pittman, things could have gone much differently in the wake of Morris’ firing.
Even if Arkansas wins the high-octane track meet that Saturday’s showdown with Ole Miss promises to be, it’s going to take time for the Hogs to be considered SEC frontrunners, as US betting sites deem Alabama and Georgia right now.
But it seems like Pittman has the right plan to get Arkansas back to the point where it’s as competitive as it was during the Bobby Petrino years. It’s one reason he brought on Kendal Briles as his offensive coordinator.
“I think the bully bully ball days have passed us at some points of the game because defenses are so big and there’s so many in the box,” Pittman told Yurachek when interviewing for the position. “At least you know if you spread them out and you have six blockers, the most they can have is seven guys around there. At least you know where they’re at.
“When you start playing bully bully ball, you start getting double eagle. You start getting bear fronts. You start getting people stacked and you can’t get to them.”
Staples goes into specifics of why Arkansas’ offense started so slowly in its first three games, and how Pittman could have been a contractor had football not worked out.
This article is behind a paywall, but it’s well worth the free trial period to check out.